Originally published October 1 2009
Type 2 Diabetes Breakthrough: The Mediterranean Diet
by S. L. Baker, features writer
(NaturalNews) Natural health advocates have been shown to be right yet again. In one of the longest randomized trials of its kind, European scientists compared the typical low-fat diet for type 2 diabetes management prescribed by mainstream doctors to a Mediterranean-style (MED) diet rich in "good" fats (like Omega-3s and olive oil), veggies and whole grains. The results show the Mediterranean diet(http://www.naturalnews.com/026382_mediterran...) dramatically improved type 2 diabetes, and even eliminated the need for many people to take blood glucose regulating medication.
In their study, which was just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers described type 2 diabetes as an enormous and growing pandemic. In fact, 380 million cases worldwide are projected by 2025. They also pointed out that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes should take prescription drugs as well as make lifestyle changes, including eating a low-fat diet and losing weight. Lifestyle changes are not considered adequate alone, according to mainstream medical thought, because most patients don't lose weight or regain any pounds they do lose at first -- and then their diabetes tends to worsen.
However, drugs are no panacea either. "Pharmacotherapy also often fails with time, and some drugs have associated cardiovascular and other risks," wrote the scientists, who are from the Second University of Naples, Italy, and Warwick Medical School in Coventry in the United Kingdom.
Looking for a way that lifestyle changes could benefit type 2 diabetes long-term, the research team (headed by Dr. Maiorino Esposito of the Second University of Naples Department of Geriatrics and Metabolic Diseases) reasoned that because the MED style of eating has a high proportion of monounsaturated fat, which is known to have cardiovascular benefits and to increase insulin sensitivity, a MED diet might be particularly beneficial to diabetics. What's more, three previous large prospective studies have shown that eating a lot of vegetables and fruits, essential parts of the of the Mediterranean diet, reduce the risk of diabetes. So the scientists set out to do a direct, long-term comparison of the MED diet versus the typical medically prescribed low-carb, low-fat, and calorie restricted diet.
Their research involved 215 overweight patients at a teaching hospital in Naples, Italy, who were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. None were yet taking medications to control their blood sugar at the beginning of the study. The research subjects were randomly assigned to follow either a low carbohydrate, Mediterranean-style diet or the standard doctor-prescribed low-fat diabetic diet for four years. Nutritionists and dietitians counseled both groups in monthly sessions during the first year and then met with them every other month over the next three years.
When any type 2 diabetics did need medication, eating the Mediterranean way greatly delayed their need for drugs. In fact, after four years, 70 percent in the low-fat, typically-medically-prescribed diet group had to take medication to control their blood sugar -- but less than half (only 44 percent) of patients in the Mediterranean-style diet group required any antihyperglycemic drug therapy at all. What's more, those eating the Mediterranean diet had an improvement in important risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
They also lost more weight even though there was no increased physical activity or decrease in number of calories eaten when compared to the research subjects on the standard doctor prescribed diabetes diet. "So the effect seems specific to the MED diet and is probably, although not exclusively, linked to its ability to induce greater weight loss," the study authors wrote.
The bottom line is that a natural approach to treating type 2 diabetes works. "Perhaps most important, the findings reinforce the message that benefits of lifestyle interventions should not be overlooked despite the drug-intensive style of medicine fueled by the current medical literature," the scientists wrote.
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